A former Ottawa police officer who was caught in an online teen sex sting after expressing his desire in a fetish chat room to experience the "gift of a 14-year-old's virginity" was sentenced Tuesday to 10 1/2 years in prison.

Paul Maher, 60, of Richmond, Ont., plans to petition the government in Canada to allow him to serve most of his jail time north of the border, public defender Thomas Livingston said after the sentence was imposed by a federal judge in Pittsburgh.

Maher pleaded guilty in October to two counts: travelling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, and coercion and enticement of a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. He faced a mandatory minimum 10-year sentence and could have received up to 11 years and three months in prison under sentencing guidelines.

Maher was arrested June 27, 2008, after travelling nearly 1,000 kilometres to a Pennsylvania motel for a meeting he had arranged with the "teen" - actually an undercover police officer from Mount Pleasant, a borough about 50 kilometres southeast of Pittsburgh.

He didn't go through with the meeting because he believed he was under police surveillance, court heard.

"Your criminal conduct in this case was depraved and vile," U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry said before sentencing Maher, who opted not to address the judge. "You are without doubt a sexual predator.

"Is your fleeting gratification really more important than a young girl's future?"

Livingston declined comment after the sentencing. Maher, white-haired with a grey goatee, was led through a courtroom exit away from reporters.

Wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and matching slip-on shoes below his leg irons, Maher said little during Tuesday's 35-minute hearing, answering most of the judge's questions "yes, sir" or "yes, your honour."

Maher was an officer with the Ottawa Police Service from 1974 to 1988, then was unemployed for four years before working as a security guard, a private investigator, and at other jobs.

An Ottawa police spokesman refused to comment on Maher's employment, referring questions about a pending weapons charge police filed against Maher to provincial court officials, who did not immediately return calls.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Soo Song said only that the charge stems from allegations that a gun was found when police searched Maher's home and his computer as part of the sex sting investigation.

Authorities also found pictures of a minor "photoshopped" onto the bodies of naked women, among other child-sex images on the computer, Song said.

Maher was 56 when he began chatting with the undercover officer in a Yahoo! Messenger fetish room using the screen name "chancemaycome" in October 2007. On other occasions, Maher identified himself as "Pablo Mendez."

An FBI complaint said Maher graphically described sex acts he wanted to perform with the girl and sent webcam images of himself performing a sex act, and told the girl he wanted to take 10,000 pictures of her when he arrived in Pennsylvania.

Maher made a motel reservation, but never showed up after phoning a co-operating witness to say he believed he was under law enforcement surveillance.

Maher was arrested later that day in New York in the vehicle authorities saw him in near the motel. He also had a webcam in the vehicle.